If a geochemist’s much-talked-about new research is true, human life began not on Earth, but on Mars—meaning that technically, we’re all Martians.
Today in Florence, Italy, at the annual Goldschmidt Conference on geochemistry, Professor Steven Brenner of the U.S.A. will attempt to prove that early life forms (like amoebas and such) originated on Mars, and then hitched a ride on a meteorite and trucked on over to Earth, which is something that maybe, definitely, probably happened on an episode of The Magic School Bus.
According to Phys.org, Mr. Brenner’s research centers around the element molybdenum, which, in an oxidized mineral form, is believed to have facilitated life on Earth. The problem, according to Mr. Brenner? When life is believed to have started—approximately three billion years ago—there wasn’t enough oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere to create that crucial oxidized form of molybdenum. Still with me? Turns out, though there wasn’t much oxygen on Earth three billion years ago, there was oxygen on another friendly nearby planet.
“It’s only when molybdenum becomes highly oxidized that it is able to influence how early life formed,” Mr. Brenner reportedly said, “This form of molybdenum couldn’t have been available on Earth at the time life first began, because three billion years ago the surface of the Earth had very little oxygen, but Mars did. It’s yet another piece of evidence which makes it more likely life came to Earth on a Martian meteorite, rather than starting on this planet.”
In other fun news, Mr. Brenner also said, “”recent studies show that these conditions, suitable for the origin of life, may still exist on Mars.”
Say what?!?! Cue the David Bowie, people.
That being said, even if there is life on Mars, it’s unlikely it evolved to anything beyond a wriggling little fraction-of-a-single-celled-organism feeding on tiny air particles or something.
“It’s lucky that we ended up here nevertheless, as certainly Earth has been the better of the two planets for sustaining life,” Mr. Brenner said, according to the Daily Mail, “If our hypothetical Martian ancestors had remained on Mars, there might not have been a story to tell.”